Diane de Jesús (above) had never considered getting a tattoo. Then, at age 29, she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ and had a single mastectomy and reconstruction. "Even though I had a lovely result from my surgery," she says, "I still felt like something was missing." After reading about a cancer survivor getting inked near her scar, she wondered if that might resolve her sense of loss. By a stroke of luck, de Jesús was offered a free tattoo through Personal Ink (P.Ink), which connects breast cancer survivors with tattoo artists. P.Ink matched de Jesús with Roxx, a renowned artist in San Francisco. They began their appointment just by talking; de Jesús mentioned dreaming about doves, which made her think of her churchgoing grandmother, and peace and comfort. Roxx sketched on a notepad. "This is what I'm getting, listening to you," she said, revealing what she'd drawn. De Jesús was floored. "I have to have that!" she exclaimed. Roxx turned the drawing into a stencil that fit de Jesús's breast size and shape, and spent the next five hours applying the ink.

"After I got my tattoo, I realized I'd been avoiding looking at my chest," says de Jesús. "Now when I look, I don't see my scar—I see this beautiful art. My tattoo allowed me to get on with the rest of my life."


Next Story